Does it actually matter what type of fuel you put in your car? Yes! Using the correct gas for your vehicle will improve your car’s performance, potentially lower your emissions, and extend the life of your engine. If the fuel options at the gas station are a mystery to you, we’ve got you covered — in this blog we’re explaining the types of gasoline available and how to know which type your car needs.
Types of Gasoline
So what makes one type of gasoline different from another? Its octane rating. The octane rating measures fuel stability, or its ability to withstand compression in an engine without combusting spontaneously. This is often described as the fuel’s resistance to “knock.”
The higher the octane rating, the less likely the fuel is to cause knocking. This means that high-performance engines are better off with higher octane fuel. There are three main types of gasoline, categorized by octane rating:
Regular Unleaded (87 Octane)
This is the most widely available and cost-effective option. It’s suitable for most everyday cars with standard engines and is a safe choice if your vehicle’s owner’s manual doesn’t specify a higher octane rating.
Mid-Grade (89-91 Octane)
Sometimes referred to as “plus” or “mid-octane” gasoline, this option provides a balance between performance and cost. Some vehicles with more advanced engines may benefit from this fuel.
Premium (91+ Octane)
Premium gasoline is designed for high-performance and luxury vehicles. Engines with a high compression ratio or turbochargers often require this fuel to prevent knocking and maximize power.
Determining Your Car’s Fuel Requirements
So how do you know which fuel type is right for your car? Here are a few ways to find out.
Check the Owner’s Manual
If you’ve lost track of that bulky manual you got when you bought your car, have no fear. Most owner’s manuals are available online these days. Your manual should specify the recommended octane rating and, if necessary, the minimum octane rating you should use. If it doesn’t specify, then regular unleaded is probably the best choice.
Look for the Fuel Door Sticker
Many vehicles have a sticker near the fuel door that indicates the recommended octane rating. It doesn’t get easier than that!
Listen to Your Engine
If you hear knocking or pinging noises while driving, it could be a sign that you’re using the wrong fuel. Double check your owner’s manual and fuel sticker and switch to the recommended octane rating. Already using the right fuel? Make an appointment at a local auto shop to get those noises checked out.
Choosing the right fuel for your car is a simple yet crucial aspect of vehicle maintenance. If you have any questions about your fuel needs or other car issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to the technicians at Pearson Auto. We’d love to help!